9 AM Orthros Prayer Service
10 AM Divine Liturgy Communion Service
Wednesdays except during Summer and Holiday Breaks
7 PM Bible Study or Discussion Group
Merry Christmas! We hope to see everyone at the Christmas Eve services this Friday. We have a morning service at 9 am (Royal Hours), and an evening service at 7 pm (Vesperal Liturgy). The two services are different, so it is appropriate for you to attend both.
Then there will be NO SERVICES on Christmas Day or the next day, Sunday the 26th.
The next regularly scheduled Sunday Service will be on January 23 of the new year, 2022!
For the Sundays during the meantime, the church will be open from 10-11:30 a.m. so you can come to pray, light a candle, kiss the icons, and so on. Perhaps there will even be a reader's service for you.
Please return your pledge cards promptly. As we've noted before, this is not a binding contract. It is not an attempt to predict the future. It is what you think you can give to the church as part of your care and upkeep for it. If you have a change in circumstances like a job loss, job change, etc., then just let the priest know what is going on and it will be fine. Thank you.
We still need about $7,000 to finish paying off the new HVAC system. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.
If you haven't donated yet, please consider making at least a small donation. Every bit helps.
If the Covid situation continues to be mild, and the Bishop gives his blessing to do so, then we will be able to resume the typical Orthodox practice of house blessings in 2022. These will occur in January and February. A sign-up list will be posted in the Social Hall. House blessings are your opportunity to have a special blessing said for you and your house. It's a special service that really makes a house feel like a home.
UPCOMING SPECIAL SERVICES
Friday, December 24, Christmas Eve:
Royal hours for Christmas at 9:00 am
Vesperal Divine Liturgy at 7:00 pm for the feast of Christmas
* No services on Christmas Day (Saturday) nor the Day After Christmas (Sunday, December 26).
Wednesday, February 2, the feast day of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple: 9 am Orthros, 9:45 am Divine Liturgy
Saturday, February 26, Saturday of Souls, 9 am Orthros, 10 am Liturgy
Sunday, February 27, Meatfare Sunday, 9 am Orthros, 10 am Liturgy
Saturday, March 6, Saturday of Souls, 9 am Orthros, 10 am Liturgy
Sunday, March 7, Sunday of Forgiveness, 9 am Orthros, 10 am Liturgy, with Vespers of Forgiveness immediately following Liturgy, and coffee hour following the Vespers
Monday, March 7, Lent begins, with Great Compline at 7 pm. Start Lent off right with attending the Great Compline. We will also have six Lenten Service Projects for everyone to participate in.
WAYS YOU CAN HELP
We always need prosforo bakers. If you'd like to sign up, see Fr. Mark.
We need people to help bring food to coffee hour. If you don't want to sponsor the entire meal, you could team up with someone, or just volunteer to bring one dish. There is a sign-up sheet in the kitchen.
We are looking for volunteers to read the Epistle on Sundays. You could read aloud or chant it, whichever you prefer. If you don't know how to chant it, we can teach you. See Father or John Choate.
Saints for the Week: See the write-ups we have down below in this bulletin. The saints' stories are very interesting and helpful to us.
Send your prayer requests to Fr. Mark. Also send your requests for visits to the sick and the hospitalized. These days, hospitals do not release patient information or call the priest, so you need to let Father know yourself.
When you travel, find an Orthodox parish and go to church! They are easy to find online. Why should we visit other parishes when we go on vacation? Because God doesn't take a break from us, so we shouldn't take a break from Him!
Whenever we cannot attend church services, we should still find a way to worship God.
Please join us for Coffee Hour. Take the initiative to stay, meet, and talk with one another, so we can build strong bonds of friendship and community.
Since we won't have regular Sundays til later in January, I'm putting down everyone who has a "date" between now and when we are getting back to regular services
Birthdays: Alan Baughman, Joanna Garcia, Chloe Choate, Joanna Garcia
Anniversaries: John & Hilary Choate, Tony & Noelle Bartl
Namedays: Maurice Marshall, Noah Perkins, David Garza, Susan Manjai, Steve Tefas Jr., Judy Perkins (Noah and Judy celebrate with the forefathers of Christ), Stephen Mouad, Joe Garcia, Tim Beys, Dustin Clopton, Joanna Weir, John Wimberley, Joanna Garcia, Joanna Kalaitzes, Heidi Papachristos, John Choate, John Kouvelis, Hilary Choate, Tony Bartl
Memorials: Frances Tefas
Fourth Orthros Gospel
The Reading is from Luke 24:1-12
On the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of man must be delivered in to the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.
Prokeimenon. 4th Tone. Daniel 3.26,27.
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers.
Verse: For you are just in all you have done.
The reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 11:9-10; 32-40.
BRETHREN, by faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundation, whose builder and maker is God.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets - who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated - of whom the world was not worthy - wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Sunday before Nativity
The Reading is from Matthew 1:1-25
The book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Aram, and Aram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa, and Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Salathiel, and Salathiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
In giving birth you remained a virgin.
And in your dormition, you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos.
For as the Mother of Life, you have yourself passed into life.
And by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death.
On the Sunday that occurs on or immediately after the eighteenth of this month, we celebrate all those who from ages past have been well-pleasing to God, beginning from Adam even unto Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos, according to genealogy, as the Evangelist Luke hath recorded historically (Luke 3:23-38); we also commemorate the Prophets and Prophetesses, and especially the Prophet Daniel and the Holy Three Children.
This Saint, who lived during the reign of Diocletian, was the servant of a certain Roman woman of senatorial rank named Aglais. Mistress and servant lived together in an unlawful union, and Boniface was moreover given to drunkenness and riotous living. Nevertheless, he was generous to the poor, hospitable to strangers, and compassionate to those in misfortune. At last, Aglais, moved at hearing the accounts of the Martyrs, and believing in the power of their intercessions to obtain the mercy of God, sent Boniface to Tarsus to obtain relics of holy Martyrs. Before he departed, he asked her in jest, "And what if they bring back my body as holy relics?" He then set out with some of his fellow slaves for Cilicia, where the Saints were contesting in martyrdom. As he went among the Martyrs and encouraged them in their pains he was arrested by the ruler and confessed Christ with boldness, and suffered death as a martyr in the year 290. Thus what he had said in jest to his mistress was fulfilled when he himself was brought back to her as sacred relics by his fellow servants. Saint Aglais devoted the remainder, of her life to prayer and works of virtue, and reposed in sanctity. Saint Boniface is especially invoked for help against the passion of drinking.
Saint John of Kronstadt was a married priest, who lived with his wife in virginity. Through his untiring labours in his priestly duties and love for the poor and sinners, he was granted by our Lord great gifts of clairvoyance and miracle - working, to such a degree that in the last years of his life miracles of healings - both of body and of soul - were performed countless times each day through his prayers, often for people who had only written to him asking his help. During his lifetime he was known throughout Russia, as well as in the Western world. He has left us his diary My Life in Christ as a spiritual treasure for Christians of every age; simple in language, it expounds the deepest mysteries of our Faith with that wisdom which is given only to a heart purified by the grace of the Holy Spirit. Foreseeing as a true prophet the Revolution Of 1917, he unsparingly rebuked the growing apostasy among the people; he foretold that the very name of Russia would be changed. As the darkness of unbelief grew thicker, he shone forth as a beacon of unquenchable piety, comforting the faithful through the many miracles that he worked and the fatherly love and simplicity with which he received all. Saint John reposed in peace in 1908.
Saint Ignatius was a disciple of Saint John the Theologian, and a successor of the Apostles, and he became the second Bishop of Antioch, after Evodus. He wrote many epistles to the faithful, strengthening them in their confession, and preserving for us the teachings of the holy Apostles. Brought to Rome under Trajan, he was surrendered to lions to be eaten, and so finished the course of martyrdom about the year 107. The remnants of his bones were carefully gathered by the faithful and brought to Antioch. He is called God-bearer, as one who bare God within himself and was aflame in heart with love for Him. Therefore, in his Epistle to the Romans (ch. 4), imploring their love not to attempt to deliver him from his longed-for martyrdom, he said, "I am the wheat of God, and am ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found to be the pure bread of God."
Saint Juliana, who was from Nicomedia, lived during the years of Maximian and was the daughter of wealthy parents. They were pagans, but she was secretly a Christian. Without consulting her, her parents betrothed her to an idolater named Eleusius, who was a member of the Senate. She, not wishing to marry him, told him that unless he became eparch, she would not marry him. When he had obtained this position, she told him that unless he renounced the religion of the idols and became a Christian, she would have nothing to do with him. Eleusius then told Juliana's father of this. He attempted to turn her from the Faith of Christ, but when he saw that she could not change her constancy, he gave her up to the Eparch, Eleusius her betrothed, to be tried according to the law. When he could not persuade her to do his will, he subjected her to the most inhuman tortures and after imprisoning her, cast her into a furnace. But by the grace of God, the furnace was marvellousy quenched. Seeing this, some five hundred men and one hundred and thirty women believed in Christ and were beheaded for His sake. After further torments, she was beheaded, in the year 299.
Our holy and wonderworking Father Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow, was born in Volhynia, tonsured a monk at twelve years of age, and later ordained a priest. He lived in solitude for a time in a desert place north of Lvov and founded the Holy Transfiguration Monastery; afterwards he was sent to Constantinople, where the holy Patriarch Athanasius consecrated him Metropolitan of Kiev in 1308, and he returned to Vladimir, where the Metropolitans of Kiev had their residence at that time (see Saint Jonas on June 15). In 1325, he moved to Moscow, where he founded the Dormition Cathedral, and after his repose in December 21, 1326, was buried there. He was also an iconographer, and two of his icons, the Dormition and the Petrovskaya, are found in the Dormition Cathedral (see also Oct. 5 and Aug. 24).
This Saint, who was from Rome, was a most comely, wealthy, and virtuous maiden, the daughter of Praepextatus and Fausta. It was her mother who instructed her in the Faith of Christ. The Saint was joined to a man named Publius Patricius, who was prodigal in life and impious in disposition, but she was widowed after a short time. Henceforth, she went about secretly to the dwellings of the poor and the prisons where the Martyrs of Christ were, and brought them whatever was needed for their daily subsistence. She washed their wounds and loosed them from their fetters, and consoled them in their anguish. Also, because the Saint, through her intercessions, has healed many from the ill effects of spells, potions, poisons, and other harmful substances, she has received the name "Deliverer from Potions." Since the fame of her deeds had spread about, she was arrested by Diocletian's minions, and after enduring many torments she was put to death by fire in the year 290.
These Saints, who were all from Crete, contested for piety's sake during the reign of Decius, in the year 250. Theodulus, Saturninus, Euporus, Gelasius, and Eunician were from Gortynia, the capital; Zoticus was from Knossos; Agathopus, from the port city of Panormus; Basilides, from Cydonia; Evarestus and Pompey, from Heraklion. Haled before the Governor as Christians, they were subjected to torments for thirty days, being scourged, racked, dragged upon the ground through dung heaps, stoned, spit upon. They were questioned again, but their costancy roused the Governor to greater fury. After subjecting them to torments more bitter still, he had them beheaded.
This Martyr was the daughter of most distinguished and noble parents named Philip and Claudia. Philip, a Prefect of Rome, moved to Alexandria with his family. In Alexandria, Eugenia had the occasion to learn the Christian Faith, in particular when she encountered the Epistles of Saint Paul, the reading of which filled her with compunction and showed her clearly the vanity of the world. Secretly taking two of her servants, Protas and Hyacinth, she departed from Alexandria by night. Disguised as a man, she called herself Eugene while pretending to be a eunuch, and departed with her servants and took up the monastic life in a monastery of men. Her parents mourned for her, but could not find her. After Saint Eugenia had laboured for some time in the monastic life, a certain woman named Melanthia, thinking Eugenia to be a monk, conceived lust and constrained Eugenia to comply with her desire; when Eugenia refused, Melanthia slandered Eugenia to the Prefect as having done insult to her honour. Eugenia was brought before the Prefect, her own father Philip, and revealed to him both that she was innocent of the accusations, and that she was his own daughter. Through this, Philip became a Christian; he was afterwards beheaded at Alexandria. Eugenia was taken back to Rome with Protas and Hyacinth. All three of them ended their life in martyrdom in the years of Commodus, who reigned from 180 to 192.
The incomprehensible and inexplicable Nativity of Christ came to pass when Herod the Great was reigning in Judea; the latter was an Ascalonite on his fathers's side and an Idumean on his mother's. He was in every way foreign to the royal line of David; rather, he had received his authority from the Roman emperors, and had ruled tyrannically over the Jewish people for some thirty-three years. The tribe of Judah, which had reigned of old, was deprived of its rights and stripped of all rule and authority. Such was the condition of the Jews when the awaited Messiah was born, and truly thus was fulfilled the prophecy which the Patriarch Jacob had spoken 1,807 years before: "A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of the nations" (Gen.49:10).
Thus, our Saviour was born in Bethlehem, a city of Judea, whither Joseph had come from Nazareth of Galilee, taking Mary his betrothed, who was great with child, that, according to the decree issued in those days by the Emperor Augustus, they might be registered in the census of those subject to Rome. Therefore, when the time came for the Virgin to give birth, and since because of the great multitude there was no place in the inn, the Virgin's circumstance constrained them to enter a cave which was near Bethlehem. Having as shelter a stable of irrational beasts, she gave birth there, and swaddled the Infant and laid Him in the manger (Luke 2:1-7). From this, the tradition has come down to us that when Christ was born He lay between two animals, an ox and an ass, that the words of the Prophets might be fulfilled: "Between two living creatures shalt Thou be known" (Abbacum 3:2), and "The ox knoweth his owner and the ass his master's crib" (Esaias 1: 3).
But while the earth gave the new-born Saviour such a humble reception, Heaven on high celebrated majestically His world-saving coming. A wondrous star, shining with uncommon brightness and following a strange course, led Magi from the East to Bethlehem to worship the new-born King. Certain shepherds who were in the area of Bethlehem, who kept watch while tending their sheep, were suddenly surrounded by an extraordinary light, and they saw before them an Angel who proclaimed to them the good tidings of the Lord's joyous Nativity. And straightway, together with this Angel, they beheld and heard a whole host of the Heavenly Powers praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men" (Luke 2:8-14).
On the Sunday that falls on or immediately after the twenty-sixth of this month, we make commemoration of Saints Joseph, the Betrothed of the Virgin; David, the Prophet and King; and James, the Brother of God. When there is no Sunday within this period, we celebrate this commemoration on the 26th.
Saint Joseph (whose name means "one who increases") was the son of Jacob, and the son-in-law - and hence, as it were, the son - of Eli (who was also called Eliakim or Joachim), who was the father of Mary the Virgin (Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23). He was of the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, an inhabitant of Nazareth, a carpenter by Trade, and advanced in age when, by God's good will, he was betrothed to the Virgin, that he might minister to the great mystery of God's dispensation in the flesh by protecting her, providing for her, and being known as her husband so that she, being a virgin, would not suffer reproach when she was found to be with child. Joseph had been married before his betrothal to our Lady; they who are called Jesus' "brethren and sisters" (Matt. 13:55-56) are the children of Joseph by his first marriage. From Scripture, we know that Saint Joseph lived at least until the Twelfth year after the birth of Christ (Luke 2:41-52); according to the tradition of the Fathers, he reposed before the beginning of the public ministry of Christ.
The child of God and ancestor of God, David, the great Prophet after Moses, sprang from the tribe of Judah. He was the son of Jesse, and was born in Bethlehem (whence it is called the City of David), in the year 1085 before Christ. While yet a youth, at the command of God he was anointed secretly by the Prophet Samuel to be the second King of the Israelites, while Saul - who had already been deprived of divine grace - was yet living. In the thirtieth year of his life, when Saul had been slain in battle, David was raised to the dignity of King, first, by his own tribe, and then by all the Israelite people, and he reigned for forty years. Having lived seventy years, he reposed in 1015 before Christ, having proclaimed beforehand that his son Solomon was to be the successor to the throne.
The sacred history has recorded not only the grace of the Spirit that dwelt in him from his youth, his heroic exploits in war, and his great piety towards God, but also his transgressions and failings as a man. Yet his repentance was greater than his transgresssions, and his love for God fervent and exemplary; so highly did God honour this man, that when his son Solomon sinned, the Lord told him that He would not rend the kingdom in his lifetime "for David thy father's sake" (III Kings 12:12). Of The Kings of Israel, Jesus the Son of Sirach testifies, "All, except David and Hezekias and Josias, were defective" (Ecclus. 49:4). The name David means "beloved."
His melodious Psalter is the foundation of all the services of the Church; there is not one service that is not filled with Psalms and psalmic verses. It was the means whereby old Israel praised God, and was used by the Apostles and the Lord Himself. It is so imbued with the spirit of prayer that the monastic fathers of all ages have used it as their trainer and teacher for their inner life of converse with God. Besides eloquently portraying every state and emotion of the soul before her Maker, the Psalter is filled with prophecies of the coming of Christ. It foretells His Incarnation, "He bowed the heavens and came down" (Psalm 17:9), His Baptism in the Jordan, "The waters saw Thee, O God, The waters saw Thee and were afraid" (76:15), His Crucifixion in its details, "They have pierced My hands and My feet .... They have parted My garments amongst themselves, and for My vesture have they cast lots" (21:16, 18). "For My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink" (68:26), His descent into Hades, "For Thou wilt not abandon My soul in Hades, nor wilt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption" (15:10) and Resurrection, "Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered" (67:1). His Ascension, "God is gone up in jubilation" (46:5), and so forth.
As for James, the Brother of God, see October 23.
This Synaxis - which is to say, our coming together to glorify the Theotokos - is celebrated especially in her honour because she gave birth supernaturally to the Son and Word Of God, and thus became the instrument of the salvation of mankind.